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Breaking Through the (Pay)Wall

UPDATE: Apparently, my syntax on the custom filters was incorrect.  I have corrected them below.  Limited testing has verified these filters as working in both Firefox and Chrome.

The small number of people who follow me on Twitter are well aware of my distaste for the implementation of the paywall on baltimoresun.com.  Given how obstreperous I found the paywall to be, I opted to remove the RSS feeds for the sun from Google Reader. It would be a cold day in Hell before I would return to view content on baltimoresun.com!

I had not paid much attention to how to workaround the paywall, as I had already implemented a simple workaround–use Incognito Mode in Google Chrome (or the equivalent setting in a modern browser of your choice).  After some time of successfully using this workaround, though, I decided take a deeper dive into how to solve this. Needless to say, thanks to reddit and some tools already at my disposal, the solution is pretty simple.

Some of you who read this might complain that I am stealing content.  I would counter by stating that I am just leveraging technology to take advantage of a feature in the paywall that Tribune Media has invested in.  I would also reply with the following image:

Interestingly, many of the sites that implement this paywall technology–Press+ from RR Donnelleyadmit to knowing about the existence of a workaround to the paywall.  They explain it away, however, by stating that the technical knowledge required to do so is too much for the average user.  In other words, most users are too dumb to realize how easy it is to get around paying for a digital subscription, so we will profit from the dumb.

Following the very simple how-to below, however, shows this to be pretty easy to implement.

  1. Install Google Chrome (if you have not done so already).
  2. Go to the Chrome Web Store, and search for Adblock Plus for Google Chrome (Beta).  Install the extension.
  3. Once it is installed, go to the wrench icon to the right of the address bar, then click Tools|Extensions.
  4. Select the Options link for Adblock Plus.
  5. Click on the Add your own filters tab.
  6. In the text box next to “+ Add filter,” paste the following filter:
    ##div[id="gregbox-overlay"]
    Click the “+ Add filter” button once done.
  7. Repeat the previous step for the following filter:
    ##div[id="gregbox-wrap"]
  8. Once done, open up a new tab to baltimoresun.com.  Enjoy paywall-free browsing, and feel free to say with me "SUCK IT, Tribune Media!"

 

Posted in Blogging.

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14 Responses

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  1. Paul says

    or just delete the cookies from ppjol.com when you hit the limit. When I get some real motivation I’ll just completely block cookies from them by one way or another….

  2. JJT says

    Another very easy and simple workaround.

    I wanted something a bit more consistent that did not require much in the way of repetitive action.

  3. JJT says

    You could also add filters for that domain to Adblock Plus as well in a custom filter:
    ||*ppjol.net^
    ||*ppjol.com^$domain=baltimoresun.com
    The latter is specific to baltimoresun.com.

  4. Callum says

    Using the HOSTS file is easier, and works on ALL browsers.

    Simply point ppjol.com and ppjol.net to localhost.

  5. Mr Lima says

    It is easier to downoad and install the following
    http://www.breakthepaywall.com

  6. Messersharf says

    Mr Lima, breakthepaywall.com redirects all your surfing behaviour an should be considered a privacy threat

  7. Anonymous says

    It appears that this workaround no longer works. Now we get a Press+ nag saying “Your 30 day cycle is over”.

  8. Doc S says

    Set up these custom Adblock filters to re-hide all the press+ overlays.

    ##div[style*="background-image"][style*="width: 100%"]
    ##img[src="http://s.ppjol.net/static/fb/fancy_close.png"]
    ##a[id="gregbox-signInTab"]
    ##div[id="gregbox-outer"]

  9. JJT says

    I am able to continue to use the filters above with no issue whatsoever.

  10. Irving Schmidt says

    And yet this workaround is so blindingly obvious to anyone who’s ever worked with code that it’s difficult to imagine it didn’t come up in the paywall planning process. The other major news paywalls — WSJ, FT, The Economist — don’t actually send the entire forbidden article to your browser, then try cover it up with a couple lines of easily reversible code. They just hit you with a message saying, in effect, “Sorry, pay up here” whenever you stray past the free zone.

  11. e says

    just press STOP while the page is loading dude

  12. JJT says

    @e: Thanks for that astute observation.

  13. RBK says

    I cannot find the “Add Your Own Filters” tab. I am using Chrome on a Mac.

  14. Sophia, NOT Loren! says

    Thank you for this! Doc S’s filters worked perfectly, using AdBlock Plus in Firefox. I’m now able to access articles on multiple sites that use the “Press+” paywall, including The Independent (UK news, whose paywall got me looking for a solution.)



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